Quick Incidental Verb Learning in 4-Year-Olds Identification and Generalization Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 2003
Quick Incidental Verb Learning in 4-Year-Olds
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Tim Brackenbury, PhD
    Bowling Green, State University, Bowling Green, OH
  • Marc E. Fey
    University of Kansas, Medical Center, Kansas City
  • Contact author: Tim Brackenbury, PhD, Department of Communication Disorders, Bowling Green State University, 246 Health Center Building, Bowling Green, OH 43403. E-mail: tbracke@bgnet.bgsu.edu
Article Information
Development / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 2003
Quick Incidental Verb Learning in 4-Year-Olds
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2003, Vol. 46, 313-327. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2003/025)
History: Received March 5, 2002 , Accepted October 24, 2002
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2003, Vol. 46, 313-327. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2003/025)
History: Received March 5, 2002; Accepted October 24, 2002

This study examined the abilities of young children to identify and generalize new verbs from an indirect teaching context. Forty 4-year-olds were shown a story that presented the following manner-of-motion verbs: frolic, saunter, scurry, strut, and trudge. The experimental group (N= 20) heard the label of each verb 13 times while viewing the story, whereas the control group (N= 20) did not hear the verbs' labels. The performances of these two groups were compared to each other and to a group of adults (N= 22) who did not view the story but presumably had prior knowledge of the verbs. The experimental group correctly identified the target verbs in their prototypical form significantly more often than the control group but less often than the adult group. Generalization measures were evaluated for the children in the experimental group who correctly identified more than half of the target verbs (N= 6), their age-matched control group peers (N= 9), and the adult group. The experimental subgroup and the adults correctly generalized the verb labels to actions in which unimportant motion features had been altered. However, unlike the adult group, the experimental subgroup responded inconsistently to generalization questions in which important movement features of the actions had been altered. These results suggest that, even in their initial representations of manner-of-motion verbs, young children are sensitive to the relative importance of the different movements that make up these actions.

Acknowledgments
We would like to thank all of the children, parents, and childcare providers who participated in this study. We also thank Hugh Catts, Diane Frome Loeb, Cliff Pye, Mabel Rice, and Krista Wilikinson for their assistance in the development of this study. An earlier version of this work was presented at the 2001 ASHA Convention in New Orleans, LA.
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